Posted by: nicktambo92 | March 20, 2013

As I was reading Tuesday’s conglomeration of research I found myself, over many results of the studies, knowingly nodding and smiling. Though we don’t really realize in the moment, many instances of our life can be boiled down to research findings. At the time, I don’t realize it when I talk warmer to a girl than to a guy. I don’t realize why psychologically I am more interested in a women’s large intimidating stature rather than what comes out of her mouth. I just do. The article touches the surface of the real problem that feminists for centuries to come will knowingly and unknowingly battle against. Just months after birth, a child’s neurons are being wired at an incredible rapidity through experiences. On Christmas a football is given to baby David while a doll is curiously analyzed by small Anabel. Uncle Tom, on David’s 2nd birthday, tosses the football teaching him how to catch, while Anabel is given a couple cursory tosses, grows bored, and wanders over to her dolls. At school, in Kindergarten, the other boys deny Anabel the right to play basketball, laughing harshly, forcing her over to the other girls. There she learns to stay. She fills seamlessly into the role. Throughout school, the boys are jumping out of their seats with their hands raised, Anabel is thrown off, unable to keep up. She grows shy. As an adult she does not feel the need to speak up at every chance, she just wants everyone to get along and collaborate. It is understandable, boys and men and other girls have conditioned her brain. There is no going back. Now she is wired, beginning to influence her own children in the same way. Its not her fault nor is it the guys who taught her. Her answer lies in the research.

I want to illustrate just how ingrained and complicated this issue of Women inequality really is. It can’t be solved by women adults fighting the world of other unmotivated women adults and adult men. Based on the research, the issue lies during childhood. I like to think of it as a boulder rolling down a hill. One little tap and that rock is on the move. Step in its way and prepare to be demolished. Feminists are trying to stop that boulder when it already has too much steam. Between ages 1-10 are the danger zone. During that time, kids are molded on the playground, in the classroom, at home, at family reunions, during lunch, and by parents. Adult men are not born with the idea that they should treat women differently,  just like women are not born with an acceptance that its okay to be excluded. They are taught. The research shows just how much they have learned.

I don’t what the answer is to fix this problem. My guess is that it will never be fixed. Feminists might scoff at that, but, I’m sorry, the research is not on your side. Young childhood is just too hard to control. Kids will find some way to be influenced by other kids and parents will slip up, forever rooting the seed. Also, I don’t have the research, but it is common sense to think that males are born psychologically genetic different than women. If so, then nothing can be done. The boulder starts rolling right after we are born, whether feminists like it or not. Total equality will never be found, we have to continue with the small,  infinite improvements.

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Responses

  1. First off, you are a great writer! You really hit some key points in your argument and I really appreciate the fact that you are so honest in your opinions about women in leadership roles and how equality plays a factor. I think that it is important when discussing women in leadership to be realistic. When people are trying to make a change as huge as women being equal in leadership roles I think a large issue has to deal with the fact that people aren’t realistic. I think that people consider things that would take a lifetime to actually make an impact on the roles of women instead of taking small minute but yet powerful impacts. I’m not saying that women will never receive the respect or equality as men when it comes to leadership roles, I am saying that it will take a long time. This mainly has to do with the fact that, as you were saying, our culture’s values and way of learning starts at an early age. As parents you can try as hard as you want to provide a comforting, stable, supportive, and loving enviornment for your children but once they leave that house hold, they have entered into a world of trouble. Children hear things, see things, learn things that they pick up from their surroundings, and from those aspects portray them into their own lives. This is exactly where the destruction of women’s acceptance in leadership roles starts. Children treat others the way that they have seen growing up, and when it comes to leadership that means men first, ladies second. I think that half of the time we don’t even realize that we do it. It is just second nature to us, becasue it is what we have grown up with. It is what we know. Now do I think this is right? No. Does it need to change? Obviously I think it does, but how?
    See, I am not the feministic type. I think that it is importnat for all indivduals to have a say so and express there opinions. I think that our country has some dying issues that need to be addressed and handled. But, I am also a realistic individual. I realize that this issue of women in leadership is one that will take some fighting and arguing to fix. It will take a long time but is very possible to change. This issue I believe is just like any other issue that the world faces. It just happens to be about individuals and their sex. In a simpiler more understandable way, I compare this issue to that of the civil rights movement. How is the concept of gender equality any different from racial equality? I think that in a way they are both very similar. But now the ball is in our court and what are we going to do with it?

  2. Excellent points. You didn’t sugar coat any of that, which I can definitely appreciate even though it wasn’t exactly optimistic or pleasant to read.

    I think you hit the nail on the head with your boulder analogy. Gendered stereotypes and learned behavior that grows to influence adult action is buried so deep within our culture that it certainly is questionable if we women will ever be able to surmount that. However, I don’t think that means it isn’t a fight worth chipping away at. Maybe we’ll never get to the point where the boulder stops rolling down the hill but I think it’s very plausible to get to the point where we can at least control its speed or destruction.

    If you don’t believe that active change is going to make a real difference, what do you think about time and generational strains? I’m for one very curious to see what the world is going to look like in about five to ten years, when our generation is calling the shots politically and to a large extent, culturally. I do believe that I am more open minded than my grandmother and my mother about women’s role in society. These things seem to get more and more watered down as time passes.

  3. The points you expressed about early childhood influence research was really interesting and does explain why there is such a difficulty in changing the dominant mindset of inequality between the sexes. With gender patterns and idealologies being expressed and practiced so early on in childhood, as little boys are being taught to be physical and sporty while young girls are taught to love dresses and dolls, it is no wonder there is such a struggle to find a growing mindset of equality. The underlying issue of gender stereotypes and inequality is that mindsets of both men and women alike need to change as a whole. This doesn’t seem likely with children learning so young what their “expected” or “supposed” roles in life should be. However in agreement with Olivia’s comment I have to believe that with each new generation the mind-set is slowly dying off. Although I was raised with the values of a very traditional household in which the mother did all of the housework and child rearing, I also saw my mother work, though never to the extent of my father, Nevertheless my mother worked while her mother never worked. As is expected of myself and my siblings I will be a working mother, so that I can share in being part of the bread winning team of my future family. I believe that with every new generation comes an advancement in the mindset of gender equality in roles both at work and the household. I believe that my children will learn from me being able to successfully juggle working and being a mother and that they will even take the developing mindset one step further. At times feminist seem to be rushing the process of attaining equality, and although as a women i strongly believe it is the ideal end goal, people need to understand that tradition is being altered and that takes time.

  4. I really enjoyed reading what you had to say. What particularly stuck out for me was that you pointed out that boys were not socialized in a certain way for the purpose of excluding women. I agree with you that the drastic change that feminists hope to effect. I believe that the only way to combat socialization (and even slightly change the environment) is to educate as many as possible. We are being educated on these issues and will therefore become more sensitive to them when we raise children or interact with people around us. I am a psychology major so the idea of whether we are innately socialized a certain way or if it’s the environment is always a question. I do think that people are more heavily socialized in their childhood and that is when the adults surrounding the child need to be aware if they hope to change thought processes.

  5. I really liked your post. It is good to see a guy’s perspective on these issues! I agree that there is nothing we can really do to change the way that children are “taught” to behave. Even if the parents were able to curve their child’s belief of stereotypes, there is no way to control how other people interect with the child at school or when they are with thier friends. It is a nice thought to have that we can take charge and change these sterotypes when children are young, but it is not that easy. Maybe one day it can be change, but I do not see it happening anytime soon, possibly not even in our lifetime.

  6. I really appreciate that you stated your opinion about the answer to this problem…there isn’t one. It seems like an endless circle that no one knows how to stop or get off of. A woman is discriminated against, feminists get angry on her behalf, women and men say things will change, and then the circle starts all over again. Women will always face some issue that keeps them below the same level as men, and it doesn’t really seem like anyone really cares to change it at this point. Sure, there are feminists and angry women out there, but they aren’t including all the other non-angry or non-feminist women in their fight to change how women are treated. We have seen videos and read articles, but they usually seem to be written or done by the same people. Very few fresh faces are stepping up to continue the battle, so it will remain a stalemate.

  7. So I guess I’m the only one…but I disagree wholeheartedly. First of all saying that “there is no going back” after being taught that a girl should be a certain way is inaccurate. Just because you’re taught something one way does not mean you will never learn anything else. It simply depends on what sort of person you are and to talk in absolutes about anything will inevitably be false at some point. While I agree the issue does begin at childhood and research may just point to such a fact, that does not mean that this cannot be stopped.

    If I’m correct in your analysis of the situation, you’re saying that this “cycle” will never end. But I’m sure the same thing was said when women wanted the right to vote, or African American slaves wanted their freedom, or even when the Nazis took over all of Germany and expanded into France. But we all know how these situations played out.

    I personally feel like its thoughts like the ones you have expressed that continue to halt women’s progress. If more people were to believe that women had every capability of holding a position as a CEO or that we could play with a football rather than a doll than I do not think we would be having this conversation. My point is by spreading these “research based thoughts” you encourage current attitude towards women in power. Research showed that tobacco was not bad for you in the beginning, eugenics was taught at Harvard and Ivy League schools because research showed it to be accurate, and at the time it showed the earth to be flat. Research is developed by humans and I believe we know by now that we are not always right.

    One person can touch so many lives, in just one quick minute you can influence anyone especially a child therefore we all have a responsibility to be both a model and a good influence. You say you cannot think of a fix to this problem well I think the most effective fix is to simply believe. Believe that we are equal, believe that even the most deep-rooted traditions can be changed, and believe that one day they will be.

  8. I concur with the rest of these comments. I appreciate your honesty in saying that you don’t think that there is a solution to this problem. One of the points that you made really stuck out to me, and that was how important childhood development is in conditioning us to believe in these social and gender roles. The reason it stuck out to me is that it made me curious as to who actually influences us the most during those developmental years. At first, I automatically assumed that it would be the parents because you spend the majority of your time with your parents as a child. However, we also spend a lot of time with our teachers and other community members. So who actually influences us the most, and what happens when we are surrounded by different views and expectations? I don’t have the answers, but it definitely creates even more conflicting expectations for young children during their developmental years, which is just another issue that parents have to take into consideration while raising their children.

  9. As a psychology major, studying childhood is something I do often. I often equate adult behavior with childhood experiences and I believe in a lot of the research done to support this. I think you have an accurate claim when you say that the research shows that childhood is what makes or breaks a female leader. As a child we are conditioned to be sweet, caring, etc and boys are taught to be competitive at sports and other things. If society were to support competition as well as the quality of “caring” for both girls and boys, society would be a more equal place. Psychologically, childhood is when many children form their personalities and if they are taught to be tough, strong, competitive kids, then they will most likely work harder and tougher to get to higher positions in leadership.If kids are taught to focus on relationships and love and care and concern, we would have another generation of hippies with less ambition to climb the leadership ladder. Leaders are shaped by their childhood, deductively, because childhood is when people form their own person. Research doesn’t lie.

  10. The above post is exactly why you should be an ENGLISH MAJOR NICK:)!!
    You have created a thoughtful and imaginative way of constructing the research we read. I would much rather read an inventive story about how things are constructed like this than facts slammed one after the next down on paper. Although both are impactful, I find it easier to picture myself as this little girl and in going through everything that she did, as the boulder builds and rolls on. I agree with this overall statement only partially, however, due to the fact that an object in motion remains in motion until an opposite force is elicited. I believe that barriers or steeps (challenges and elements changing society) can be placed to slow down this rolling affect through a child’s youth in order to build their mentality and confidence. By having more leadership positions readily available for girls, they can begin early on seeing how females can be leaders. In the case of the basketball playing, if girls were encouraged more in P.E. and taught that they do have the skills through positive encouragement, then maybe they would be more likely to challenge the boys. Even in P.E. there are different grading scales for boys and girls, setting them apart from an early age, showing how they should only weigh this much or be able to achieve this much, while the boys continue to surpass them. The ball will only continue to roll for as long as there is someone to start the rolling, that being societal pressure and influences. However, I believe that if society was able to change the structuring and pressures put on girls at such a younger age, that the balls rolling down society’s hill of the future will begin to start looking a lot different than they are now. Only through encouragement, a desire to change, and actions taken to create change, can things come about and new ideas be spread to spur new opportunities as well as women’s advancement.


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